Five (5) requests regarding the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority (Port Authority):

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Thu, 02/01/2007 - 06:34.

These  Five (5) requests regarding the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority (Port Authority): from Ed Hauser are really worth reading. As soon as today the Cuyahoga County Commissioners may reappoint Carney or hold off - that will be very signficiant. Ed is keeping track of all this and asked me to make sure this letter posted below is very visible.

 

          January 25, 2007

 

To:      Honorable Board of Cuyahoga County Commissioners

            Jimmy Dimora, Tim Hagan and Peter Lawson Jones

            1219 Ontario Street, Fourth Floor  

            Cleveland, Ohio 44113

 

From:  Ed Hauser

            11125 Lake Avenue #402

            Cleveland, Ohio 44102

 

cc:       Interested Citizens, Organizations, Public Officials and Media Contacts

 

RE:     Five (5) requests regarding the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority (Port Authority):

·        Request the county commissioners to appoint a person with Great Lakes maritime shipping credentials to the Port Authority Board of Directors.

·        Request the county commissioners reestablish negotiations with the city of Cleveland to balance the number of Port Authority board member appointments.

·        Request the county commissioners to adopt a resolution requesting Ohio legislators to amend the Ohio Revised Code requiring board members of Ohio's port authorities to file Disclosure Statements with the Ohio Ethics Commission.

·        Request the county commissioners to have the Port Authority reinstate provisions for preparing future development plans and conducting public hearings to gather comments for those plans.

·        Request the county commissioners not to reappoint Chairman John Carney when his term expires.

 

Dear Honorable Board of Cuyahoga County Commissioners:

 

I respectfully request the county commissioners to appoint a person with Great Lakes maritime shipping credentials to the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority Board of Directors.  There are not any board members with Great Lakes maritime shipping credentials.  Cuyahoga County and the city of Cleveland created the Port Authority primarily for maritime shipping and there needs to be representation on the board.

 

I respectfully request the county commissioners reestablish negotiations with the city of Cleveland to balance the number of Port Authority board member appointments.  The county residents pay a much larger portion of Port Authority taxes than city residents.  All of the Port Authority owned properties used for maritime purposes were purchased with county tax dollars.

 

I respectfully request the county commissioners to adopt a resolution requesting Ohio legislators to amend the Ohio Revised Code requiring board members of Ohio's port authorities to file Disclosure Statements with the Ohio Ethic Commission.  Ohio's port authorities are included under Ohio Ethics Law.  However, it's absurd that appointed board members of Ohio's port authorities do not have to file financial disclosure statements with the Ohio Ethics Commission.  Port Authority boards have the power to use eminent domain and issue bonds for millions of dollars for private and public projects.

 

I respectfully request the county commissioners to have the Port Authority reinstate provisions for preparing future development plans and conducting public hearings to gather comments for those plans. 

In September 2003, the Port Authority adopted the provisions for preparing future plans and holding public hearings that were repealed from the Ohio Revised Code.  In January 2005, the Port Authority deleted those provisions from its Rules & Regulations.  In March 2007, the Port Authority plans to release its $900,000 Port Relocation Study without the provision to conduct a public hearing to gather comments for a study the taxpayers paid for.  The Port Authority's behavior regarding this matter is unacceptable.

 

I respectfully request the county commissioners not to reappoint Chairman John Carney when his term expires.  A recent Plain Dealer article (1/21/07) raised significant questions about Chairman Carney's potential conflicts of interest.  After inspecting the Port Authority's public records, I believe there may be potential conflicts of interest between Chairman Carney and developers.  I am providing my findings in a timeline below:

 

01/12/06- "Moving port is key to plans" (Westside Sun News, Ken Prendergast)

·         Carney begins to introduce Stark to the Port Board by recommending him to develop eastside Port property. 

            Carney says the port authority, which finances new development projects, can play a direct role in making Stark's plans a reality.  Carney, Stark's partner in the $20 million Crocker Park "lifestyle center" in Westlake, has introduced Stark to the rest of the port authority board as well as to other downtown developers. 

            Carney acknowledges his partnership with Stark puts limitations on what he can do officially as port board chairman.  When Stark was looking for a port authority to help finance the construction of parking decks at Crocker Park, he turned to the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority to avoid conflict of interest.

            "Because he's a partner with me, I wouldn't be able to be involved with any dealings with him," he said.  "What I'm doing at this point is to put my do-gooder hat on in making introductions…"

            "We will work with Bob Stark and the city to accomplish this sooner rather than later," Carney pledged.

 

04/20/06- Port Relocation Study - Request for Qualifications (RFQ):

·         Carney recommended Stark three months before the Port Authority released a RFQ for the future development study.

·         Carney is a partner in the ownership of the Water Street Apartments located in the area stated below.

            "…Define potential use of existing Port Authority east side property and determine if more vigorous re-use of the property could be created by encouraging increased density between the existing Warehouse District  and Port Authority property by the physical connection (between West 3rd and West 9th streets) of the two areas and provide a conceptual plan and cost estimate…"

 

05/24/06- "Developer Pitches Warehouse Plan" (Plain Dealer, Christopher Montgomery)

·         Carney travels to Las Vegas on Port Authority business for a developer's convention from May 21-23, 2006.

            Asher said he thinks it has helped that he and Carney have attended many of the meetings… "I think it brings a lot of confidence and cohesiveness to the plan," Asher said.  "Retailers can look at us and know that we wouldn't be spending our time on this unless we thought it was worthwhile."  Carney said he is there to assure retailers that the Port Authority board has considered Stark's plan and is "working with him to achieve it."

 

07/06/06- Carney turns in expense report for the Las Vegas Trip

·         Carney turns in a hotel reservation form for a room booked by James Stark, no receipt of payment only a hand typed bill totaling $1,126.19 for a three night stay at "THEhotel at Mandalay Bay."

 

09/08/06- Port Authority Board Meeting Minutes

·         Hauser Public Comments- "He closed by saying he believes that John Carney has a conflict of interest between his role as board chairman and his relationship with developer Bob Stark."

·         "Director Wager commented that he believes that Chairman Carney has shown an excess of caution regarding his role on the Port Authority board and his professional associations, and has recused himself in discussions with multiple developers.  Director Wager stated that he believes that any suggestion to the contrary is false."

·         No public record of any Port Authority board members meeting with any developers for eastside properties. 

 

09/15/06- Memo from Carney to President Failor

·         "Per our conversation, The Mandalay Bay hotel receipt attached to my expense report dated July 6th, contains James Starks' name because the Stark organization handled the reservations on my behalf.  Please be advised that the sole occupants of the room were myself and my wife.  These charges were paid by me and are reimbursable in full to me."

 

09/19/06- Carney is reimbursed for his Las Vegas trip expenses without showing proof of payment for the hotel

 

10/24/06- Carney finally writes a check to Crocker Park LLC to reimburse Stark Enterprises for the hotel room

·         "The borrower, Crocker Park Delaware LLC, is a joint venture between prominent Cleveland developer Robert L. Stark and members of the Carney Family." (Quoted from a Prudential Financial- News Release 12/20/05)

League of Women Voters Port Study

I had occasion to visit the League of Women Voters local website and stumbled upon this interesting document.
I post it here for our information:
A STUDY OF THE CLEVELAND-CUYAHOGA COUNTY PORT AUTHORITY
By the League of Women Voters of the Cleveland Area


We don't know all these players, but two, we do... in bold below.

The Port Authority Committee

Penny Jeffrey, Chair
Elisabeth Kroepel

Excellent report on LWV site

I'm glad you posted this Susan. It is an excellent report. We need to get an update from Ed Hauser on the Carney situation - he's in the middle of all of this.

Disrupt IT

Merriman on Port

In this sensational report Tom Merriman puts the Port's spending on display. You've gotta watch and see Gary Faillor defending the outrageous expense tab.

Carney reappointed

Last night Tom Merriman called me to tell me that segment 1 of his Port investigation would be showing on Fox 8. I told him that it had been posted on their site and had already hit the blogoshpere. Then he told me that Carney had been reappointed. May the press in Cleveland continue to press this issue and uncover what's going on and provide whatever transparency can be had...

The story is here:

Developer renamed to port board

Carney's vote on project raised questions of conflict
Friday, February 16, 2007
Joan Mazzolini

Plain Dealer Reporter

Cuyahoga County commissioners voted 2-1 Thursday to reappoint local developer John Carney to the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority.

The reappointment comes a month after The Plain Dealer reported that Carney cast a vote as port chairman that might eventually benefit his own business dealings, raising conflict-of-interest questions.

Commissioner Jimmy Dimora dissented. Commissioners Peter Lawson Jones and Tim Hagan voted for the reappointment, praising Carney's commitment to reviving Cleveland.

"No one has served the community with more interest," Jones said.

Hagan chastised people who questioned whether he was in conflict because Carney is his former brother-in-law. Carney gave at least $13,000 through five organizations to Hagan's campaign for commissioner in 2004.

Dimora said he dissented because he believed the port had moved too far from its original mission of supporting and growing the local shipping industry. Instead, Dimora said the port had turned into a "bonding authority."

The authority, under its recently retired executive director, jumped into the business of using its ability to issue low-cost bonds to help put together development deals. The deals included the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum and Cleveland Browns Stadium.

Despite the words of support, the commissioners had waited weeks to reappoint Carney, whose term ended Jan. 28. Carney has been on the board eight years.

The Plain Dealer reported Jan. 21 that Carney voted to start the eminent domain process for Flats east bank property, but later removed himself to avoid the appearance of a conflict. Carney co-owns property near the area, and the port is taking the lead in acquiring the property needed for the $230 million plan.

Hagan said it was foolish to suggest that someone has a conflict because he has downtown property and wants Cleveland to survive.

Carney gained the commissioners' support after voluntarily filing a financial disclosure statement with the Ohio Ethics Commission on Wednesday.

Elected officials at almost every level and members of state boards and commissions are required to file annual disclosures with the state commission on the sources of their income, as well as real estate holdings and other financial interests.

But some appointed board members who are paid public salaries are excluded from the state requirement, including port board members as well as the sewer district's.

The commissioners recently asked state lawmakers to require those board members to file disclosure forms. In the meantime, the commissioners announced that they wanted newly appointed or reappointed board members to voluntarily file statements.

Dimora on Thursday said his vote against Carney's reappointment didn't stem from questions about conflict of interest. Rather, he said his vote reflected the "fundamental difference of opinion" with Carney over the port's mission and the best use of Whiskey Island.

Dimora said he disagreed with Carney's continued push to fill in the public marina at Whiskey Island and move port operations, including storing limestone or iron ore, to the lakefront.

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter:

jmazzolini [at] plaind [dot] com, 216-999-4563

Channel 8 on port authority conflicts

I saw the report on the myfoxcleveland.com website - fantastic. And the PD coverage seems to almost aplogize for not doing more to take Carney down. Time to increase the pressure on visibility - Ed Hauser needs to be funded in his work, and he needs to start posting more of his own content here so more people really know what is going on - he needs to be part of any blogging training program we do!!!  As for the Port Authority, I'll get to know more as I push forward some big developments that may involve working with or funding from them. I want to see any studies done on the port and planning around it and I expect more citizens to become more involved in the planning process.

Disrupt IT

Port Authority 2014 to 2020

  Did any one see this??

The proposed 200-acre site would be created east of Burke and north of East 55th Street, by dredged materials.  The federal government would cover 75 percent of the cost of the land creation.  The relocation of current facilities is anticipated to be completed in phases between 2014 and 2020, with the full 200 acres taking several years longer.